Well, this was a hard post to put together. I’ve been planning something like this for months, and after the success of last year’s mini (but thorough) Paris guide, I thought I’d attempt something for my own city, London. I wanted to include lots of options for people, as well as trying to narrow down some of my favourite things to do (for both people that had and hadn’t visited the city before)- but I’ll keep adding to this where I can (with links and bits and bobs if I’ve posted about something more thoroughly, too).
It’s funny how easy this kind of post is to do with cities where you’re a tourist. Whether that’s the U.K, Europe or the U.S- but try and let me pick out the best parts of London and I’ll be stuck for months! Anyway, I hope you enjoy my (not-so-mini) guide to London in 48 hours! I know there’s a lot more I could have put in, so keep checking my London travel section for more suggestions too…
To note: I’ve split things up into areas to help make scouting things out a little easier- there’s a lot to see in London and it can’t be done in a day, but I’ve tried to hand pick the things I wouldn’t want to miss if I could! Some things are only open on the weekends (e.g Broadway and Columbia Road market), but I’ll make a note of that, so you don’t end up wasting any time!
There’s a lot of beautiful hotels in London all of which cater to a whole host of budgets, but above I thought I’d pop a handful of my favourites across the city to suit different tastes. A big shout out goes to one of my total favourites though, Artist Residence. Situated a stones throw from Victoria station (read: a totally enviable location)- this beautiful boutique hotel boasts some of the most stunning interiors in the city, as well as warm staff, delicious food and one of the prettiest hotel fronts I’ve seen (not that that should sway you. A must visit even if just to visit their cocktail bar!
How to narrow down the whole of central London into a couple of days?! I’ve picked out some of my favourite things to do in Zone 1 around the centre- including a handful of places to eat, drink and be merry (I avoided listing Oxford Street as it does go without saying- plus, I want you to see the treasures of the rest of the city too)!
Eating & Drinking: Start with my favourite breakfast (the ‘breakfast glory’) at Berners Tavern, cakes at Fortnum & Mason (as well as admiring their amazing tea parlour), Sketch for afternoon tea if you’re feeling fancy (or check out my other favourite afternoon tea alternatives here), Spring at Somerset House for gorgeous dinner interiors and treats, Love Die Late in Fitzrovia for coffee and cocktails post-6pm and of course Dishoom for the most delicious Indian food in town.
Doing & Seeing: For shopping explore Covent Garden and Neal’s Yard (which is incredible for great veggie hideaways too) as well as Dover Street Market if you’ve got your eye on something special. If you want to beat the rain my favourite cinema is the Prince Charles Cinema (just off from Leicester Square, but far cheaper and an amazing selection of films (including sing and quote-a-longs)- great for beating the rain)- or if you fancy a last minute mani/pedi DryBy are my total go-to’s too. Also, what shopping trip would be complete without a visit to Liberty? Their women’s fashion is stuff of dreams!
Although some of my favourite places in South London include Dulwich, New Cross and Crystal Palace (which I’ve spoken about here)- if you only had a weekend in London I’d recommend not veering too far away (in order to pack the most in)- but definitely recommend heading further my way if you can!
Seeing & Eating South: Open every day but Sunday, Borough Market is everyone’s favourite foodie pit stop South of the river- until you discover Maltby and Druid Street of course! Open on weekends only, both markets boast some of the most delicious artisan foodie pop ups (lookin’ at you Blu Top)- so I definitely recommend swinging by if you have time one Saturday morning! Alternatively head to Brixton Market
and POP Brixton for some incredible street food (or just an amazing Franco Manca pizza)…
East London is one of my favourite areas of London to explore; probably because it’s ever changing and there’s always something new and exciting happening and popping up. For this reason there’s definitely parts of town I hardly even know myself, but I thought I’d start you off with a few of my favourites to get you going…
Eating & Drinking: Depending on the day of the week, start with breakfast at Hoi Polloi at the Ace Hotel (and obviously make use of their Photo Booth too), head to Violet Cakes (and/or) Lily Vanilli for some of the most delicious cakes in town and Counter Albion on Redchurch Street for an afternoon pick me up. For dinner head to Clerkenwell or Exmouth Market and explore Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings for cocktails (or weekend brunch) or Morito for delicious tapas.
Doing & Seeing: During the day explore Rough Trade East for rows of amazing records (and see if they have any great in store’s on too)- before heading along to Brick Lane and scouring Beyond Retro and Blitz for some of the best vintage in London. If you have time, head a bit further north to Hackney’s Mare Street (and to stop by beautiful Palm Vaults)! Alternatively drop by on the weekend for Saturday’s buzzing Broadway Market and Sunday’s infamous Columbia Road Flower Market (which is worth a visit, even if you can’t pick up a bunch of blooms)!
When I used to work along Westbourne Grove, to me it was one of the prettiest parts of the city and still holds that magic all these years later. On top of that being the huge Notting Hill fan I am (anything with Julia Roberts)- there’s definitely that little sparkle when walking past that bookshop (even if it’s slightly different in real life…
Seeing & Eating West: Start the day by pottering along Westbourne Grove and grabbing breakfast at Granger & Co. (even if just for their incredible coconut bread or scrambled eggs), then head along to Portobello Road (totally obligatory, and maybe stop by The Electric) towards Kensington Park Road for gorgeous shops and the likes of Biscuiteers – my favourite! A visit West isn’t complete without a pit-stop along The Kings Road- so mark visits to the Saatchi (they always have great things on), Good Life Eatery (if you’re feeling healthy) and The Shop at Bluebird to visit! If you also fancy eating West, Notting Hill Gate has a huge Polpo which is usually less busy than their others too- ssh!
There are so many pockets of North London that I love and that offer something so different to each part of town. Although I couldn’t not list spots like Camden and it’s beautiful stables market, it’s worth making a bit of time to see little treasures in Angel and Primrose Hill too- I promise it’ll be worth it!
Eating & Drinking: If you want the most delicious pancakes start the day at Greenberry in Primrose Hill (also close to Primrose Bakery for post-brekkie cake too, naturally), before meandering towards Camden and their stables which boasts my favourite Honest Burger and insane ice cream from Chin Chin Labs too. If you fancy crepes of dreams La Creperie in Hamsptead is also worth visiting (especially if you want a trip to the heath afterwards too) or even a little further South to Angel for Ottolenghi or HEN for dinner.
Doing & Seeing: No trip to North London would be complete without a trip to Camden Stables Market, but also make special notes to visit Islington’s Camden Passage (for gorgeous independent shops and cafes, including my favourite SMUG). If you’re after more green head to beautiful Regents Park or Primrose Hill for breathtaking views across the city. Also, if you need some rainy day goodness- Drink Shop Do in Kings Cross always has so many activities and fun things (as well as delicious cake, bottomless brunch and cocktails by night too)!
Walk along London’s Southbank at night, walk up Primrose Hill and take in the views, go boating on the Serpentine, head to Greenwich and The Royal Observatory for incredible views, do the BB Bakery red bus afternoon tea, visit Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery for some of my favourite art (and great exhibitions)- and visit Buckingham Palace too, of course…
If you can, get an Oyster Card (it’ll save a £££), download City Mapper (BEST.APP.EVER) to help with bus routes and use the bus if you can (its amazing what it will do for your barings and beats doing the tourist buses too), naturally try and avoid tubes (esp. Central Line) between 7:30-9:30am, check places for restaurant bookings- a lot of London hot spots are ‘trendy’ and don’t take bookings- so make sure to ~try~ and plan ahead a little!
I hope this perhaps introduced you or helped plan any upcoming trips you may have to London! There’s a lot that I sadly couldn’t squeeze in (in fear of making it too jam packed) but please do also pop your suggestions down below for other ideas for everyone!